Review: GameSir G4 Pro mobile controller
Play a bunch of mobile games or want to get into game streaming? This mobile controller is great.
Mobile gaming used to be — to put it delicately — a joke. Hyper-casual titles like Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds were hugely successful, but only earned small eye-rolls from the die-hard gaming elite more accustomed to hyper-violent AAA fare.
Cloud gaming changed all that. Whether you were perched on the lavatory with your trousers dangling by your ankles, or waiting for the bus to take you to your soul-destroying job, you could still frag a few cacodemons in Doom Eternal, or deliver the winning goal in FIFA 2022.
But you need a controller to do all that. And so, with a gentle tip of my fedora, let me introduce you to the GameSir G4 Pro mobile game controller.
Specs of the GameSir G4 Pro
Released during the pandemic’s halfway point — when the ratio of commuter-gamers to toilet-gamers was particularly skewed — the GameSir G4 Pro is a fairly traditional controller, albeit with a platform-agnostic flair.
It plays nice with the Nintendo Switch, PC, Android, and iOS, and boasts compatibility with a bevy of cloud gaming services, including Xbox Game Pass and Google Stadia. Sadly, this functionality doesn’t extend to the Xbox or PlayStation.
The GameSir G4 Pro makes it easy to pair with your chosen device. Making a new connection is as simple as holding down the home and ‘B’ buttons simultaneously, and then selecting it from within your Bluetooth settings.
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The controller packs an 800mAh battery. The battery is more than adequate for occasional sprints of gaming, and charges via a USB-C port concealed in the back.
The controller also includes a USB dongle for PC gaming. Although you can — if you choose to — pair the controller to your PC via Bluetooth, the dongle purportedly consumes less energy, giving you more time between recharges.
Irrespective of which connectivity standard you opt for, you can expect over a full day’s worth of continuous gaming.
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The controller has a fairly conventional layout. Two trigger buttons sit on either side. There’s a D-Pad, ABXY keys, two analog sticks, a screenshot button, and so on.
For smartphone gamers, the GameSir G4 Pro touts a retractable, spring-loaded bracket that can fit even the largest of devices. It comfortably grasped my iPhone 12, even with the case still attached.
How does the GameSir controller feel in-hand?
The GameSir G4 Pro is designed for portability, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s hardly the chunkiest controller on the market. This takes a bit of getting used to.
Despite being priced towards the bottom of the mobile gaming pack, it offers plenty of premium touches. I appreciated the rubberized, textured chassis, which made it easier to grip.
Additionally, I enjoyed the magnetized ABXY keys, which delivered a satisfying crackle with each press.
The trigger keys proved highly responsive, and the analog sticks demonstrated surprising accuracy, with none of the trademark drift found in cheaper controllers.
Sadly, that attention to detail proved absent when it came to the D-Pad, which felt spongy and deeply unsatisfying.
We also note that some buttons — like the Share key — are hard to access when using the GameSir G4 Pro with a smartphone. It’s also worth noting that the vibration functionality is only available when playing on a PC or Nintendo Switch.
There’s a lot to like about this mobile controller
I primarily used the GameSir G4 Pro with Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming. This gave me an opportunity to contrast it with the Razer Kishi — a smartphone gaming controller that costs almost twice as much. It also has a slightly different design philosophy, instead choosing to envelop the phone rather than float below it.
Admittedly, I expected the GameSir to fare poorly in this match-up. Razer is a household name, with a mass-market penetration and a well-earned reputation with gamers. I’ve gushed over their products for years. In fact, I’m writing this very review on a Razer keyboard.
And yet, in many respects, the GameSir G4 Pro trounced Razer’s Kishi. The decision to use a conventional controller form-factor makes it feel really natural.
Sure, its slightly diminutive size takes some getting used to, but you don’t have to rebuild your entire muscle memory. Pulling the trigger feels so much more satisfying, and the magnetic mechanisms of the ABXY keys make for a more deliberate and comfortable playing experience.
The GameSir G4 Pro doesn’t force you to remove your phone’s case, as with the Kishi. Its deliberate device agnosticism means I can continue to use it, even if Apple decides to dramatically rethink the design of future iPhones.
When Apple ditches the Lightning port for USB-C (as will inevitably happen, courtesy of some European Commission legislation), my Razer Kishi will become immediately obsolete. I don’t have to worry about that with the GameSir G4 Pro. It’s just, fundamentally, a better product.
Again — unlike the Kishi — I can use the GameSir G4 Pro with pretty much any device (save for the Xbox and PlayStation). It’s just a fundamentally better product.
Should you buy the GameSir G4 Pro?
I grumbled about a few things in this review — namely the weak D-Pad, slightly smaller size, and cross-platform quirks. But despite that, the GameSir G4 Pro more than redeems itself, and at its price, it’s really hard to fault it.
Its build quality is surprisingly decent. I put it head-to-head against Razer’s flagship mobile gaming gadget, and now I almost feel guilty. It wasn’t a fair fight. The Razer Kishi lost. By a considerable margin.
It boasts incredible battery life. Its inherent platform agnosticism makes it a sound long-term investment for any gamer. The things that matter — analog sticks, triggers, and ABXY keys — are executed beautifully.
We’ve all dreamt of driving down the speedway in Gran Turismo 7 as we ride the Hershey Highway at work. The GameSir G4 Pro makes it possible. And it’s damn cheap, retailing at just $50 on Amazon. You can also snag it directly from GameSir for the same price.
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